Date of Award

2015

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts in Marine Affairs

Department

Marine Affairs

First Advisor

David Bidwell

Abstract

This research aims to address how to increase support and understanding for coastal and marine policy as well as coastal habitat restoration in Narragansett Bay, Rhode Island. More specifically, the objective is to determine both the influences of environmental education on public attitudes and how environmental education influences the public's support for habitat restoration and protection policies. From this research one can discern whether environmental education plays a significant role in attitude formation, which can prove to be important for public support of policy. Using a in person questionnaire, three sub-groups (Entering, Exiting, and Non-visitors) were surveyed. The survey was designed to evaluate environmental worldviews, knowledge of the marine environment, level of policy support, and demographics. Results were analyzed using a step-wise regression to determine the factors that hold the most significance for level of policy support. This study shows that respondents have a high level of policy support in Rhode Island, however, it is not directly correlated to education, but more directly correlated to environmental beliefs and values. Although data show there is support, they also suggest that there is still room for improvement to gain public support. It is hoped that this study will be of some use to Rhode Island policy makers and Save the Bay, but also in other institutions to evaluate their education programs and their role in public policy support.

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